Christmas Day is just over a week away, which means all the festivities and activities are in full swing. This time of year, it’s so easy to get caught up in everything we should be doing and lose sight of what really matters. There are invitations to cookie exchanges, brunches and dinners and ugly sweater parties, and gifts to be bought and wrapped. And in the midst of all that, it’s easy to lose focus at Christmastime.
At the start of the season, I knew I was in for a busy busy couple of months - and by start of the season I mean October. As a photographer, I start booking up in late October and I’m typically booked up until mid-December. I was hosting Thanksgiving, and I also signed up to help out with a big fundraiser at Caleb’s school on December 1. Sprinkle in there my Christmas mini sessions, hubby's birthday, and various other compromises. So I knew that October through December was going to be hectic.
When I get busy with work and outside compromises, everything else suffers. Right now, my laundry is piled high on the sofa in our bedroom because I haven’t put it away in about two weeks. Before that? It had been about a month since I had actually put my laundry away. My house was a mess, and I hadn’t gotten a single Christmas gift. And while I’m okay with a little bit of a mess (like the laundry I mentioned earlier), it really starts to grate on me when my house is in a shambles. It heightens my anxiety and I have a hard time focusing on everything I need to do because my space is just so out of whack. My self-care suffers, I eat garbage, and I don’t drink enough water.
So when the invites started pouring in for events and activities, I thought really long and really hard about what all of these things would mean for me and for my family. More “hurry up we gotta go,” more leaving my kids, less time with my husband, and more stress because I had all this work to keep up with. So for every invitation that came in, I thought long and hard. And I only said yes to the ones that I thought would truly bring us joy while we were participating.
That has meant that we have spent more time together and less time running from one place to another. We have enjoyed each other’s company and sat down to meals together. We have spent time with family and we have been happier. I have had more patience, and when Chloe and Eddie both came down with nasty colds/viruses, I didn’t freak when I could barely get any work done for 3 days.
And to be honest, I don't feel like we have missed anything this Christmas season. On the contrary, we've enjoyed the things we have been able to do because we didn't feel stressed or overcommitted. One day, our kids will ask to participate in certain activities, and we'll let them choose the activities that bring them joy - but we will teach them to do things because they love them.
At the end of the day, resting and recharging and spending time together has been just what we have needed to get through this Christmas season feeling happy and content. And at the end of the day, that's what Christmas should be about - finding what brings you joy. If making gingerbread houses stresses you out, don't do it. If the thought of standing in line to visit Santa brings you to tears, then don't take them. And if what makes you happy is drinking hot chocolate on the sofa in your Christmas pajamas while watching Christmas movies with your kids, then DO THAT. You don't have to do things because everyone else is doing them. Choose your joy this season, and let your Christmas be yours.